Intern Perspectives: The Listening Room

Today  we have a talk by the artists and refugees involved in The Listening Room: Refugee Arts Project, at 4 pm, followed by a special presentation by Playback Theatre.  Want to know more? Read summer intern Oliver’s impressions of the exhibition and stop by this afternoon!

The Listening Room, Refugee Art Project, curated by Sally Brucker was a collaborative effort, by seven artists, one poet, and eight refugees from different countries. Each refugee was paired with an artist who listened to their story and created from it a work of art to share the refugee’s unique experiences and shared connections. Set apart from the rest of the gallery, it is as if you are stepping into a small world filled with the sounds and stories of these displaced persons. Each artist offers a unique lens for the refugees’ experiences to be shared through, creating a distinctive conversation between the experiences of all partaking in this project.

Installation shot of the untitled work by Nicole Salimbene

Installation shot of the untitled work by Nicole Salimbene

In Untitled, by Nicole Salimbene, the story of a refugee named Fetunwork was conveyed through a painting of clustered buildings that was severed down the middle and loosely sewn back together. Salimbene highlights the space we can reach within ourselves when we remove ourselves from the distraction of the outside world and just listen. The buildings were collaged with clippings from advertisements and images of windows, creating a juxtaposition between the consumer culture and modern designs of the magazines, and the earth-toned simplistic buildings and laundry lines. To the right, Kian’s Prayer, by Pauline Jakobsberg, Viola’s story is told through a mix of bright and muted colors, with snippets of conversations scrawled across the painting. The contrasting colors convey the conflict between the activities and joy in Kian’s day-to-day life, and the sorrow of his mother learning to live in such a foreign place and culture. The painting features a dress, harkening to some of Jakobsberg’s other works, and creates a link between the artist and the storyteller.

Leaning against the other wall, Memory, by Sally Brucker, encapsulates a photo from Manijeh’s wedding day. Manijeh is drawn in the middle, flanked by her mother and mother-in-law, and layered in textured fabrics. Manijeh is wearing a traditionally western wedding dress, where as the women standing beside her are garbed in traditional chador coverings. Manijeh sewed the threads used in the artwork herself, and wrote the poem in farsi on her dress, and there are passport images of Manijeh in her mother-in-law’s clothing. To the left, Searching, by Terry Svat, conveys how Abourass kept his faith in God through the all of the pain brought on by his long journey from Darfur . The painting features a sand-colored background, with small, earth-toned figures to symbolize the trampled earth, and a cross cut from the background to show his lasting faith in God. Svat bound the painting in a cross made of twine with plaster cast hands holding it on either side. This was her way of holding the piece together, but it also shows how Abourass was able to hold it together through his faith in God.

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